“You can’t keep trying to get comfortable with the toss, and you can’t get complacent, or you’ll lose your focus (IBK head coach Kim Ho-cheol).”
IBK head coach Kim Ho-cheol is a legend in the Italian league as a player and coach. The best setter in Asian women’s volleyball is no stranger to his eyes.
IBK has won three straight games, including a shutout victory over Roadworks in the Dodram V League on Tuesday. With 22 points, they are now within three points of third-place GS Caltex (25 points).
Ponpun is at the center of it all. Along with Wipawee (Hyundai E&C) and Thanacha (Roadworks), he led the Thai national team to crush Korea in one international tournament after another. Kim Ho-cheol, the No. 1 pick in the Asia Quarterfinal draft, selected Ponpun with a big smile on his face.
The season started before they could even catch their breath. Pyo Seung-ju, who has played for the national team, said, “Ponpun has traveled the world with me.”
The team has now played 15 regular season games. Ponpun’s integration into the team has stabilized the team. However, there are still times when the team looks out of sync.
This was the case in the sweep against the Roadworks. After falling behind 6-9 in the third set, Kim Ha-kyung was substituted for Ponpun. At 9-13, IBK scored eight consecutive points to turn the tide and finish the match.
Coach Kim Ho-cheol said, “Ponpun did a good job until the second set. In the third set, I started to think more, and I lost my concentration.” “There are times when I try to be too comfortable,” said Kim. His ankle wasn’t in great shape that day either.
Despite the absence of mainstays Park Jung-ah and Wang Dae-young, the ‘defending champions’ are in a deep slump. They have lost five games in a row. They’ve been hovering around the bottom of the standings all season.
The team is led by second-year setter Park Eun-ji behind star setter Lee Yoon-jung. Head coach Kim Jong-min started Park Eun-ji against IBK.
When asked why he changed the starting setter, coach Kim Jong-min said, “Park Eun-ji is in good form. I saw that for our team to be stronger, we need to have more diversity in our players, even if we fail. We can’t play with only two wings.” “We can’t just play on both wings,” he said. She also emphasized that she is more psychologically stable than when she was first traded.
Park Eun-ji was not as accurate with her tosses as she was with her agile footwork. In the end, Lee Yoon-jung, who was substituted in the middle of the second set, stayed until the end. However, it did not change the outcome of the match.
Other teams, including leaders Heungkuk Life (Lee Won-jung and Kim Dae-sol), have the same setter woes. GS Caltex has also seen Kim Ji-won falter and 18-year-old rookie Lee Yoon-shin take the court. Jeong Kwanjang has Yeom Hye-sun and Pepper Savings Bank has Lee Ig-eun as their main setters, but they are not satisfied.
Coach Kim Ho-cheol complains that “Ponpun sometimes falls into illusions,” but emphasizes that he would have chosen her no matter which team had the first pick in the Asian quarterfinals. This is proof that the V-League is suffering from setbacks.